Track and field team shows signs of growth, get first look at conference competition at OEC Invitational

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Collin Orlando, a Division 1 recruit from Santiago, vaults a new collegiate personal best of 13 feet 11 inches at Wheelock Stadium on Feb. 25.
By Daniel Hernandez

Track and field athletes placed personal bests and got a first look at their conference competitors when they hosted the OEC Invitational.

The invitational closed with a dominant showcase from the men and women’s 1600-relay teams.
The men’s team added Novye James and Darius Hill to the relay team, an unlikely pair since both were out of their element as jump specialists. It turned out to be the right decision. The two held their own and the relay team shaved 3 seconds off its personal record (PR).

The women’s team also made two changes to the lineup which led to a new PR of 4:03.30.

“We have been putting a lot of work in,” Briana Olukoju, the women’s 1600-relay anchor, said. “After seeing the huge gap I was like, ‘Now we have to run for time, just finish strong, keep pushing, give all you got.’ And we just finished through.” 

The Feb. 25 meet was their second home meet of the month, at Wheelock Stadium. 

The team is coming off of an uncommonly early record-breaking home opener that led to some season highs and a potential preview of what is to come once the team reaches the state championships.

And now that the adrenaline from the RCC Early Bird meet has cooled down, the Tigers are looking to follow a more stable pattern of growth.

Pole vaulter Collin Orlando, a Division 1 high school recruit, set a new PR of 13 feet 11 1/4 inches, which was also enough to win the event. Orlando’s win comes off of a seventh place finish at the RCC Early Bird where he vaulted 13-3 1/2.

“It’s great, especially coming from starting a little rough,” Orlando said. “I got where I want to be and I’m hoping that I can PR and keep at the top of my game throughout the season.”

Mario Jacobo finished first in the men’s 1500-meter and cut down his PR by one second, less than five minutes after Orlando landed his new personal best, 

This became a trend. Matthew Siggins, a hurdle specialist, placed first in the 110-hurdle event and set a new PR of 15.22. He earned his previous best of 15.36 at the OEC Invitational two years ago. 

“I’m leaving off of where I was before Covid hit so I feel like I am at a good start,” Siggins said. “(I’m) always trying to get better each and every week.”

He also broke his previous 400-hurdle personal record by a fraction of a second.

RCC men’s team placed first with a combined score of 329 and the women’s team placed third with a combined score of 147.

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